Top 10 Things To Do In São Luís, Brazil

Things to do in Sao Luis

If you are the type of person who loves spending their vacation discovering the cultural practices of different communities, then it is without a doubt that you will enjoy spending time in Sao Luis, Brazil. Here, you will be able to discover the city’s customs and traditions through several festivals and events. One of the important attractions you will discover is its historic center, where you will find museums, churches and historic buildings with architectural designs influenced by the Portuguese culture. Even though the attractions in Sao Luis are mainly cultural, the city also boasts beautiful natural attractions like the beaches and sand dunes. There is so much to discover in this destination so check out our list of some of the things to do in Sao Luis, Brazil.

1. Explore the Historic Center

Source: Photo by user Gilles Pansu used under PUBLIC DOMAIN

The first place to stop when visiting Sao Luis is the historic center. Here, you will be fascinated by the sights of the well-preserved historic buildings which were constructed during the 18th and 19th centuries. The architectural designs were due to the Portuguese influence in this region, who left several beautiful churches, mansions and buildings, most of which were decorated with glazed tiles with the aim of protecting the buildings from humidity. The significance of these buildings earned the Historic Center a well-deserved title as a World Cultural Heritage site. Igreja da Se (Catedral) which is famous for its gold-leafed altarpiece is just one example of the buildings that will fascinate you as you explore the center. It is always recommended that you should bring your camera and capture these rare sightings that are hard to find.

Sao Luis Historic Center

Address: Tv. Boa Ventura, 26 - Centro, São Luís - MA, 65010-090, Brazil

Opening hours: 24 hours (daily)

2. Enjoy the impressive views of the dunes at Lencois Maranhenses

Parque Nacional dos Lençóis Maranhenses photo 06
Source: Photo by user Rosanetur used under CC BY 2.0

When you are done exploring the Historic center, one thing you have to do is to head to Parque Nacional dos Lencois Maranhenses, located in Barreirinhas. Here, you will find an amazing collection of natural sand dunes that cover more than 46,000 ha (115,200 acres). The best time to visit this attraction is during the rainy season when the blue-green lagoons form on the dunes. During this period, the lagoons act as a habitat for several marine species such as turtles and fish while also providing cool water, perfect for swimming. When the dry season kicks in, the lagoons completely evaporate leaving you with an amazing sight of the sand dunes. When this happens, you will find that Parque Nacional dos Lencois Maranhenses is also a perfect spot for bird watching.

Lencois Maranhenses

Address: Barreirinhas - State of Maranhão, 65590-000, Brazil

Website: Lencois Maranhenses

Opening hours: 8am - 6pm (daily)

3. Bask on the beaches of Sao Luis

Praia Ponta D'Areia
Source: Photo by user Gabriel Asker used under CC BY-SA 4.0

It does not matter what time of the year it is, every traveler who visits a new place shouldn’t miss the opportunity of having a good time at the beach. If you are in Sao Luis, you are in luck for the city features more than 20 miles (32 kilometers) of beaches with perfect waves giving you the opportunity of enjoying several watersports including surfing and swimming, or you can opt to just relax and enjoy the sun. One of the beaches you have to visit while you here is Ponta d’Areia beach, which is located approximately 2 miles (3.2 kilometers) from the town center off Sao Luis. In this area, you will also find a number of classy restaurants, cafes and clubs.

Ponta d’Areia

Address: São Luís - State of Maranhão Brazil

Opening hours: 24 hours (daily)

Price: Free

4. Discover the hidden gems at Casa de Nhozinho

Posted by Bruno Gaudêncio on Tuesday, 21 January 2020

Casa de Nhozinho is a national museum that pays tribute to the works of Antônio Bruno Pinto Nogueira a famous artisan who was a master of Buriti woodcarving. Here, you will be able to discover some of his works that include giant dolls, looms and fishing instruments. A tour of this museum is very educational, especially to art lovers. In order to fully understand all the works housed in this museum, there is also a guided tour whereby a learned tour guide will tell you more about the art you’ve come across. Please note that there is no parking space provided.

Casa de Nhozinho

Address: R. Portugal, 185 - Praia Grande, São Luís - MA, 65010-480, Brazil

Opening hours: 9am - 6pm (daily)

5. Learn the history of Fonte das Pedras

The Fonte das Pedras is a historic fountain at the heart of the town center. This place is a landmark thanks to the fact that this was where Jerônimo de Albuquerque camped his troops in October 1615, while expelling the French from São Luís. The Fonte das Pedras was built using Portuguese colonial architecture and it features a walled quadrilateral, has a pediment in masonry and frowns through which the water gushes abundantly. There is so much history here and you will always find a local who is always ready to tell you all about it. In addition to its history, this is the perfect place to sit, relax and just re-energize.

Fonte das Pedras

Address: R. Antônio Rayol - Centro, São Luís - MA, 65065-545, Brazil

Website: Fonte das Pedras

Opening hours: 24 hours (daily)

6. Visit Valparaiso Aqua Park

Uma atração para quem gosta de encarar níveis altos de desafios. Descer a nossa tirolesa é garantia de pura adrenalina.

Posted by Valparaíso Acqua Park on Saturday, 25 January 2020

If you are looking for a safe environment where you can just relax and let your kids have fun, one place you should always visit is Valparaiso Aqua Park. It features a safe and well-maintained environment with several watersports. The park is located in Paco do Lumiar just 20 km (12 miles) from the town center of Maranhao. Some of the fun activities your child can enjoy include climbing, slacking and of course, swimming. In case you get hungry, the water park also features two restaurants serving the best of local cuisines and a bar where you will find some amazing cocktails.

Valparaiso Aqua Park

Address: Estrada da Pindoba, 03 São Luís, Sao Luis, State of Maranhao 65130-000 Brazil

Website: Valparaiso Aqua Park

Opening hours: 10am - 5pm (daily)

7. Enjoy the sunset at Espigao Costeiro

Pôr do Sol no Espigão Costeiro
Source: Photo by user Pedro Guilherme L... used under CC BY-SA 4.0

If you want a place where you can just relax at night and enjoy your drink in a friendly environment, Espigao Costeiro is the place to go. This is a jetty where you will be awarded stunning views of the pretty landscape of Saint Marcos Bay, especially at sunset. The area also features vendors and other places where you can get drinks and snacks nearby in case you get hungry. This is also the perfect place to enjoy a stroll with your friends or partner. Espigao Costeiro is known for getting windy at times, so make sure you come prepared.

Espigao Costeiro

Address: R. do Forte, 953 - Ponta D'areia, São Luís - MA, Brazil

Opening hours: 24 hours (daily)

8. Catch a performance at Teatro Arthur Azevedo

Posted by Teatro Arthur Azevedo on Thursday, 23 June 2016

Teatro Arthur Azevedo is the second oldest theatre in Sao Luis and most probably the most famous theatre thanks to its unique style. It is located at the heart of the town in a building that boasts amazing architecture and incredible interior design. The theatre’s environment is very scenic and it features the perfect acoustics that makes every play fantastic for the audience. If you truly love plays, you have to sit near the “plateia” area; you will have stunning views from here. A secure parking space is also provided by the management.

Teatro Arthur Azevedo

Address: R. do Sol, S/n - Centro, São Luís - MA, 65010-120, Brazil

Website: Teatro Arthur Azevedo

9. Say a prayer at Catedral da Sé

São Luís - Catedral da Sé
Source: Photo by user Fred Schinke used under CC BY-ND 2.0

If you are religious, you have to pay Se Church a visit. It is strategically located at the center of the government square and it features eye-catching ornate and beautiful trimmings. Additionally, the church also boasts an amazing interior and exterior that has good frescoes with classical structures. What will amaze you most about the church is its spacious altar and the large concert hall that can host more than 200 guests.

Catedral da Sé

Address: Praça Dom Pedro II, S/N - Centro, São Luís - MA, 65010-450, Brazil

Website: Catedral da Sé

Opening hours: 24 hours (daily)

10. Visit the Palace of Lions (Palacio dos Leoes)

Palácio dos Leões - São Luis - Maranhão - Brasil
Source: Photo by user Claudinez Lacerda used under CC BY 3.0

Located at the heart of Maranhao, Palacio dos Leoes (roughly translated as The Palace of Lions) is a beautiful and interesting place to be especially if you love art and architecture. Enlisted in the World Heritage List, the building was built by the French during the late 19th century thus explaining its amazing architecture. After marveling at its outstanding architecture, you should step inside and explore the endless collection of ceramics, paintings and many other artifacts. This is not a place you would want to miss out on during your visit to Sao Luis, Brazil.

Palacio dos Leoes

Address: R. Dom Pedro II, S/N - Centro, São Luís - MA, 65010-070, Brazil

Opening hours: 9am - 6pm (daily)

Discover Sao Luis

There are so many amazing things to do while you are in Sao Luis. In case you are out of ideas on what to do, check out the list above to help you plan an unforgettable trip to this lovely Brazilian city.

Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.

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Ambrose is a highly dedicated student who has a passion of travelling. What makes travelling so passionate to him is the food scene, the culture, the historical background of new places and meeting...Read more

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